Last night you will be well aware that a less than full strength Rams team were hammered 3-0 by Forest in the Carabao Cup second round.
Whilst losing to Forest under any circumstances is a bad thing and the Rams performance was certainly less than satisfactory, the main post match debate has been less about individual players, but more about Cocu’s team selection and his general attitude to this game.
I think we would all concede that, at this stage of the competition and the season at large, this was a shocker of a draw. A nice home (or away really) tie against a lower division outfit or even a Championship rival would have allowed a free hit for Cocu to blood youngsters and dish out game time to senior players to his hearts content. In fact I think we could have played any one of the other 91 teams and nobody would have cared one jot about the team selection, the performance or the result. However this is Forest, it is never a throw away game and we sold over 3000 tickets to travelling fans.
Whilst we all expected changes, I don’t think anyone expected 10 and certainly not for there to be two full debutants. Add to that the first minutes since Scunny for Curt and Shinnie and of the season for Duane Holmes, a first start for Paterson and not a single partnership anywhere near tried or tested and this was a major gamble which failed big time. He even chose to bring on Bird and Mitchell Lawson from the bench.
As is the norm, Twitter went mental as the debacle unfolded, with many fans cursing Cocu for not respecting the rivalry (plus the odd scumbag who decided it was all Mason Bennetts fault). However there were also no shortage of folks pointing out that we have all been asking for some decent young players for years and in turn for said players to be given a chance.
The whole thing reminded me of when the previous manager put a scratch team out at Villa last season with similar results (a game don’t forget that kick started Villas winning streak as they were on their arse at the time), in preparation for 3 home games in a week. That didn’t quite work out either as I recall.
If you really want to go full wrist slasher, you may also consider that the average age of Forest’s team was less than ours, they made 7 changes which probably tells you a bit about the strength of their squad (though I fully endorse the long term view of developing our own players as opposed to buying randoms), the goals we actually did concede were woeful and we didn’t muster a single shot on target. We’ve also just handed a massive dose of free momentum to our biggest rivals.
The obvious sensible conclusion here is that more acknowledgement of the opposition and the travelling Derby fans should have been allowed. Nobody wanted or expected a first team to be selected. However, Cocu has applied his super calm and cold logic to a situation that needed perhaps a little more lateral thinking and I am wondering why Rosenior didn’t give that advice or, if he did, why it wasn’t followed?
Whilst it is brilliant to see our Academy at last churning out quality youngsters and equally brilliant to see them being given opportunities in the first team, you have to question the logic of blooding two of them in a game like this, especially with a two week rest for most of the first team just around the corner. Also, where was Bielek who surely needed game time (i’m not aware he had an injury but stand to be corrected) and why not retain Waggy and Keogh for some balance? On the other hand, and almost even more bizarre in my mind, why put Marriott on when the game was up, after protecting him for the last 6 weeks?
Amongst the deluge of comments from Derby fans, I myself got involved on Twitter and labelled Saturdays game at Brentford as ‘massive now’, which in the cold light of day it clearly isn’t. That said, whilst there is plenty to be cautiously optimistic about in Cocu’s first month at the helm, results isn’t one of them. So the thought of losing Saturday on the back of this game doesn’t fill me with joy. Especially with two weeks to chew on it.
Again (with full reversing lights flashing and sirens blaring), If we don’t win on Saturday it wont be the end of the world and certainly every successful Derby team in my lifetime has started the season slowly. However if we could get 3 points, then we can quickly cast this fiasco down the nearest drain where it belongs and we can all be friends again.